I believe God gave my wife and I the heart to adopt, for our first son, a little boy from the state foster system. Now, looking back in retrospect, I can probably say that he’s a little more than we bargained for and I might have even thought twice about adoption had I known what we’d be getting into. Nevertheless, I think it was meant as much for our growth as it was for his, and ever since, we continue to love him more and more.
Before we adopted him, he had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The label itself may not be too uncommon these days and even familiar to many. However, we didn’t explain or even talk about it with him for a number of years because we didn’t want him to take it on as part of his identity. For us though, that label seemed to explain a lot. His past seemed to produce his relationally disconnected, volatile and erratic behavior that now can often characterize him.
At first we thought it may just be his ADHD, and it may well be to a degree. However, occasionally he’s also shown both verbal and motor tics, which by definition would be considered Tourette’s Syndrome and more likely is. To date though, ADHD is the only thing he’s been diagnosed for because we’ve never taken him to a doctor to be diagnosed for more. It’s probably safe to say that he’d just be prescribed some meds, which for the most part we are against. And although meds may be an option for some, we just aren’t willing to lean too heavily on popping a pill to solve problems, nor do we want the side effects that may be associated with them or for him to possibly become dependent on them later.
More recently, we’ve realized he’s been exhibiting some seemingly psychopathic tendencies, and that those have been present for a while now. We’ve known too that he’s quite narcissistic and has a problem feeling empathy. It’s this that can actually be one of the most aggravating things for me about him because he is continually overbearing, acting thoughtlessly towards others. In all honesty, some days it feels like he’s constantly being reprimanded, so it’s no surprise that he struggles with shame. And as parents, we also struggle with shaming him and continually knowing how to respond.
To me, writing all this feels like it paints a somewhat bleak picture of him. But as much as his chronic annoyances can bother everyone around him, don’t get me wrong. If you know him, he’s the most fun-loving (in fact, too fun-loving to his own detriment), high-energy and charming eleven-year-old you’d know. He is particularly outgoing and charismatic as evidenced in how he used to go up to complete strangers and give them a hug and kiss (which we’ve since put a stop to). It’s also worth noting that he can be quite persuasive. And so, since he’s quite the up and coming salesman, with a little more perfecting of his skills, someday I’m sure he’ll be a force to reckon with.